Steven Greenhut: Here Comes the Spending Spree!

The California Legislature gets its share of national attention for some of the wackadoodle bills that it routinely signs into law. It’s 2019, which means that it’s now illegal for full-service restaurants to provide straws with sodas unless a customer specifically asks for one. Furthermore, water and unflavored milk must now be the default option on kids’ meals at fast-food restaurants. But at least first responders are finally allowed to provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to distressed pets — something that previously was limited to licensed veterinarians.

I put most of this weird stuff in the “mild annoyance” category. Life goes on without straws, and the marketplace will no doubt come up with alternatives to plastic ones. (Hemp anyone?) These are win-win laws, actually. Progressive lawmakers can pretend that they are saving the planet or protecting kids’ health. Conservative commentators from outside California can use them as a reminder of what happens when the Republican Party no longer really exists. Everyone else shrugs and adopts some simple workarounds.

But there already are warning signs about what might be coming down the pike now that Gov. Jerry Brown, who would at least veto some of the most hare-brained ideas from his fellow party members, is heading off for his ranch in Colusa County. We’re already seeing signs that former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who becomes governor next week, will pursue a far more aggressive spending agenda than Brown ever had.

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